MIN-GB Grades: Griffen, pass rush rattle Rodgers
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Vikings’ 20-13 victory over the Packers:
Green Bay Packers
– If the Packers are to advance in Washington next weekend, they must have David Bakhtiari back at left tackle. After Don Barclay’s disastrous performance last week in Arizona, left guard Josh Sitton (-2.8) stepped outside and put up a better fight, but still surrendered pivotal plays to Vikings’ DE Everson Griffen. Not helped by the play calling or the game situation, Sitton was asked to pass protect 54 times in a game where the Packers struggled to get production, even though Eddie Lacy ran the ball well and their interior offensive line had some success against the Vikings’ re-tooled defensive tackle pairing.
– Five pressures (one sack, four hurries) saw Clay Matthews earn his first positive pass rush grade (+2.3) since Week 12, yet again showing where Matthews can have the greatest impact on the Packers’ defense. Despite this productive showing as a pass rusher, Matthews still earned a negative overall grade (-0.5), struggling to get off blocks in the run game, missing a tackle, and getting flagged for a penalty after getting worked back by Michael Harris. More opportunities off the edge working with Julius Peppers in the passing game could yet give this Packers’ defense a postseason spark.
– A tough end to the season for Aaron Rodgers (-0.8), who earned his second straight negative game grade. Early in the season, Rodgers looked like he could overcome injuries and absences around him, but over the course of the year, that has caught up to him, and he even contributed to struggles around him last night. After the beating he took last week, you couldn’t necessarily blame him for happy feet, but the combination of excessive movement around the pocket and hanging in the flat trying to make plays on scramble drills saw Rodgers charged for a season-high eight pressures (one sack, five hits, two hurries), more than any of his linemen gave up on an individual basis.
TE Richard Rodgers (+4.6)
HB Eddie Lacy (+3.0)
RG T.J. Lang (+2.9)
LG Lane Taylor (+2.7)
S Micah Hyde (+1.8)
– Composure and not making bad mistakes in the right moment will be crucial if Teddy Bridgewater (-3.7) is to lead the Vikings past the Seahawks next weekend, and while he clinched the NFC North title this week, Bridgewater came up with two crucial errors that could have turned the game. A left-handed pass out of the grasp of a defender was picked by Micah Hyde (+1.8), and then a fumble on a handoff to Adrian Peterson at the end of the game are the kind of plays that can see teams fall out of the playoffs very quickly, and Vikings fans will hope Bridgewater “got those out of his system” this week.
– The first of those mistakes by Bridgewater was bailed out by one of Everson Griffen’s (+3.5) nine pressures on the night, as he rounded Josh Sitton to hit the arm of Aaron Rodgers as he threw, forcing a fumble which Captain Munnerlyn (+1.0) scooped up to set up the Vikings’ 20-3 lead. With Green Bay shuffling the pack at left tackle, the onus was on Griffen to come up with a game-changing performance, and he did not disappoint against the run or pass, with his third-highest graded game of the season, and his most productive in terms of sacks (two), total pressures (nine), and stops (four).
– Michael Harris’ surprising season came unraveled a little against the Packers back in Week 11, with his lowest-graded game of the year (-3.2). He made amends last night, however, finishing the regular season with his third game earning a grade of +2.0 or above. One of the surprises of this year, Harris’ early season-form was built on his pass protection, but it is his run blocking that has been his strength late in the season, combining well once again with C Joe Berger (+1.7) last night to drive the Packers’ defensive linemen off the ball and create space for Adrian Peterson.
CB Xavier Rhodes (+4.2)
LB Anthony Barr (+4.1)
DE Everson Griffen (+3.5)
RG Michael Harris (+2.6)
LB Eric Kendricks (+2.3)